June 3, 2015


Starring Jessie T. Usher, RonReaco Lee, Erica Ash, Teyonah Parris, Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps. Various Directors (2014, 164 min).
Anchor Bay

Considering the one and only LeBron James serves as one of the executive producers, one might understandably assume Survivor's Remorse draws a bit of inspiration from his own experiences. Maybe it does, but other than the elementary school team my daughter plays for, I know almost nothing about LeBron or basketball. Not that it matters, since this Starz series is more about how instant fame & fortune affects and changes people, sometimes for the worse. The game itself is perfunctory.

Jessie T. Usher is Cam Calloway, a young prodigy who becomes an instant celebrity with millions of dollars after signing a contract to play basketball in Atlanta. He's brash and cocky, not-to-mention naive and foolish when it comes to his wealth (though he has a generous streak that's somewhat endearing). Cam's sudden stardom also impacts the lives of those around him, mostly his family, who have no problem riding the gravy train to luxury (if this reminds you a little bit of Entourage, you wouldn’t be too far off the mark).

"One, two, three, four...I declare a thumb war!"

Those hoping for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the inner-workings of the NBA should prepare for disappointment. The game itself is only the catalyst for happenings outside the arena (at least during most of these six episodes). And for a series purporting to be a comedy, it isn’t often all that funny. Perhaps that's due in-part to the fact few of the characters (outside of Cam) are particularly likable; most are shallow, petty, conniving and greedy. Still, that didn’t hurt Entourage in its early seasons, so maybe it’s a moot point. The sudden first-world problems these characters face is sometimes interesting, but it would’ve been kind-of cool if the first season featured a bit more of a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes drama inherent in pro sports. But that’s just me; I imagine scores of folks will enjoy the story twists and personal betrayals enough that they won’t be concerned about the infrequent cameo appearance by an actual basketball.

While I was largely unimpressed with the various story arcs of this first season, it’s well acted by a good cast, the dialogue seems authentic and ends with the promise of greater things to come. Perhaps this is one of those shows that'll hit its stride later on.

Featurette: "Meet the Cast"


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